A satirical Web site that has fans worshiping a squid-like meatball creature is attracting thousands of visitors a day who appreciate its humorous jabs at the religious Right.
The growing movement of The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is a so-called religion that refers to itself as being legitimate. It mocks Intelligent Design and on a larger note, fundamentalist Christianity.
The religion was started in 2005 when Bobby Henderson, a 24-year-old unemployed physics major, wrote to the Kansas State Board of Education to protest its consideration of implementing Intell- igent Design in its schools as an alternative to Darwin’s Theory of Evolution.
Intelligent Design, a theory mainly supported by the Evangelical Right, argues that an intelligent force, God, constructed the universe and all the functions within it. To prove his disdain for the board’s religious alternative, Henderson presented it with the Flying Spaghetti Monster, comparing Intelligent Design with a concept he thought to be of an equal level of absurdity.
FSM’s comedic approach has been compared to The Daily Show, The Colbert Report (whose satire is based on mocking the Right) and The Onion newspaper. Like much of the satirical media of its time, many find its content humorous and enjoy the absurdity of worshipping a squid-like god with two giant meatballs for cheeks.
Henderson’s new religion contains real holidays such as “Pastaover,” the supposed night when the magical Flying Spaghetti Monster flew over the city.
“Oh sure I celebrate it,” said Hanako Hjersman, a Mills junior. “[It’s] an excuse for my friends to get together and eat a lot of pasta. It’s the best holiday really. There’s Santa Claus and then there is the Flying Spaghetti Monster. I believe in both.”
However, not all find its content amusing. Samantha Redding, a Lake Merritt resident and an evangelical Christian, said she is tired of having her religion mocked and criticized, especially about assumed ties between her religion and recent policy decisions.
“First of all, you can still be evangelical and want nothing to do with the administration and its policy mistakes,” Redding said. “You can also be evangelical and disagree with how religion has been manipulated to justify this war. Christians are always getting clumped into one group, we’re not all the same. I just get tired of being associated with something that is just so not me.”
Jessica Miller, a Mills junior who grew up in a traditionally Jewish Orthodox home and whose father is a rabbi, said, “At first I was a bit turned off because it looked ridiculous, but after reading what the people on the site have to say, I’ve concluded that it’s completely hilarious and I think it’s going to give Judaism a run for its money.”
Laughing, she continued, “If you’re not able to laugh at some aspects of religion, [you] can take some of the joy out of spirituality.”
FSM has managed to gain international popularity. According to its Web site, visitors have included those from South America, Europe and Australia. In Huntsville Ontario, several youths were caught vandalizing buildings and signs with FSM’s logo. FSM’s Web site encourages this behavior.
To prove its legitimacy, the homepage of the Web site writes, “Some claim that the church is purely a thought experiment, satire, illustrating that Intelligent Design is not science, but rather a pseudoscience manufactured by Christians to push Creationism into public schools. These people are mistaken. The Church of FSM is real, totally legit and backed by hard science. Anything that comes across as humor or satire is purely coincidental.”
Though the Web site itself claims to be real, it is truly up to viewers to decide just how serious and legitimate it really is.